I no longer know how to feel about roguelikes. It seems like it’s a genre that every game in recent years has been tacked on with next to Procedural Generation. That’s not to say that roguelikes don’t work, it just seems like an oversaturated genre. And then, we have a game like Othercide that implements that in conjunction with strategy RPG elements.
I get the idea, really. It can be fun to see how far you can get into a game and then try again with better equipment once you inevitably die. However, I think it’s a bit too easy to just put on blocks in your progress to force you to start again. Unfortunately, this is one of the major problems behind Othercide, and it doesn’t get better.
This RPG makes one thing very clear. You will make mistakes, you will die, and you will start all over again. That’s pretty much it in broad strokes, to be honest. You’re going to die and start over from the beginning and hope you get further. Now, the real question is whether the journey is fun since the destination is clearly going to take some work to get to… So, is it?
The Mother’s Demands
The first question I would ask my readers here is: “Do you like XCOM?”. That’s pretty much the way this SRPG works. If you know me, I do love my strategy RPGs. I mean, look at my review of Langrisser I & II to get an idea. However, Othercide does play with some innovative concepts for the genre.
Before we go into that, let’s briefly talk about the story. In the year 1897/1929 (it seems to take place in both at the same time). A mysterious being known as the Chosen One of Suffering and its group of generic bad guys are trying to enter our world. Meanwhile, an entity known as The Red Mother tries to drive them off and… I think she’s the good guy of this story? I’m not sure.
Well, the point is that there’s a fight between The Red Mother and the… Bad guys. I mean, you can clearly tell they’re evil because they wear plague doctor masks and constantly talk about a “Cure” so… Yeah? However, mommy can’t do the dirty work. So, she throws disposable mooks, I mean, Daughters to do the battling for her.
So, kill the bad guys. That’s the plot we’re going with and, to be honest, it really doesn’t need anything else. There’s lots of lore and information about the characters involved for the player to read. However, I believe that this is for the person who gets invested in the plot itself. For someone who cares about the gameplay, you probably won’t need to know all about the war between Mommy and the boy.
The game unapologetically sticks to an edgy and dark aesthetic that’s so easy for me to make fun of. However, as much as I mock it, I also have to say it’s respectable that a game commits to that theme and pulls it off nicely. The aesthetic is the most pleasing aspect of the game as it takes on a black and white approach where only the color red is highlighted.
Gaming fans of old might recognize this style as it was used in MadWorld. However, some of the more contemporaneous gamers might point out that this style was similarly used in Hatred where notable set pieces like fire and police lights are colored while everything else uses a grayscale filter.
The fight between The Red Mother and The Other (that’s the baddies) takes place in the real world. As such, you can see the vestiges of civilization within the battlefield. You’ll be able to see broken pavement or destroyed buildings while fighting monsters in the field.
Overall, despite my tone saying otherwise, I admire the commitment that Othercide takes to its dark aesthetic. I get a “Gothic” vibe out of it and it’s something refreshing to see compared to the “Realistic” settings most games try to roll with nowadays. Of course, this commitment also extends toward its gameplay, so let’s start heading there.
Taking Charge of an Army… Of Three
The Red Mother’s objective is to stop The Other. As said before, she will use her Daughters to do the dirty deed. Daughters are essentially disposable units like in Star Traders: Frontiers. You’ll be able to give them a specialty that focuses on different combat styles. However, there are only 3 different combat styles available for the player to choose with appropriate names for its setting:
The Soulslingers (my favorite of them all), use guns to take down baddies. The Blademaster focuses on attacking up close. Finally, the Shieldbearer protects the party with high HP while dealing damage with a shield. There’s a hidden fourth class (Scythedancer) once you reach the boss of Chapter 3. But, to keep this review spoiler-free, let’s say that you are primarily going to play with the three classes. However, if you want to know more about the fourth class, check out this guide by PC Invasion.
The game will use a timeline system that’s reminiscent of that of World of Final Fantasy. Player and enemy turns are arranged depending on the number of Action Points they use. You use AP by moving around the field and using skills to take down enemies. The less AP you have by the end of the round, the further back you’ll be pushed in the timeline.
With this, the game becomes less about waiting for your turn but optimizing the timeline and making sure enemies don’t get their turns frequently. Being reckless or constantly wasting those 100 AP will end in your demise. So, use those resources sparingly.
While fighting, you also have to consider the abilities at your disposal. You have your standard immediate attacks; Delayed Attacks which take place at a later point during the timeline; and Interrupt Skills which can prepare your characters for a counterattack. Later in the game, you’ll get more and more choices that let you indirectly manipulate the enemies’ placement on the timeline.
This system actually makes you think about what you’ll do. The game forces you to think about whether or not you’ll use all of your AP to take care of that immediate threat in front of you. What if said enemy brings reinforcements before your next turn? What if one of those reinforcements happens to have a gun and is prepared to do some ranged damage to your units?
To play Othercide, you need to account for all possibilities. Otherwise, you’ll end up dying brutally.
As I mentioned before, you can die in this game for a variety of reasons. From simply failing to understand the timeline to difficulty spikes that you’ll need to overcome eventually. If you lose all of your daughters, it isn’t the end of the world. Instead, you’ll be thrown back at the beginning with a new set of Daughters, letting the cycle begin anew.
This is basically the roguelike loop you’ll have to deal with. As such, like any other roguelike, you’ll get some extra goodies that will aid you in the next cycle. Resurrection Tokens will help revive your previously fallen Daughters. There are two ways to acquire them: Completing Rescue missions in which you escort a weak unit from Point A to Point B; and using Remembrances which gift you Resurrection Tokens.
Sacrifices Must be Made
Another thing that defines Othercide is the fact that HP loss is “Permanent” among your daughters. If you take HP damage, there’s no real way to recover it during the battle. If you think you’ll be able to restore it in the safety of your base, think again. To recover HP for your units, you’ll have to dispose of other units of the same level to give back that HP. So, try not to grow attached to a particular unit. Who is to say that they aren’t next in the chopping line? The sacrifice doesn’t go in vain as the healed Daughter will always receive a portion of the sacrifice’s power.
As you can see, this choice of having to sacrifice units plays into the aesthetic of the game quite nicely. However, you also begin to question the motives of the Mother as she’s essentially killing people inhumanely to achieve her goals. It’s… A complicated solution, I suppose. Thankfully, there really isn’t anything that will make you be too deeply attached to your characters.
So, now that I’ve sounded nice enough, it’s time to talk about this game’s shortcomings.
Being Murdered is Tedious
You wanna know why I am so mixed with roguelikes nowadays? It’s because games like this often try to excuse putting difficulty spikes on the players for no reason other than to force them to do things over again. Othercide is very fond of doing this kind of thing and it’s annoying as it is repetitive. Especially with boss fights as they tend to love to go through multiple phases and murder your entire party because they caught you off-guard.
My problem with Othercide is that while you get benefits from the Remembrances like the ability to skip sections of the game, it doesn’t negate that you basically lost all of your progress to start a new cycle. Not to mention, there are times where you pretty much are set to fail and you don’t know why.
In one of my instances of death by bullshit, I was playing an Ambush mission in which you fend off enemies and then escape by running to a spot in the field. I got to the spot, and then my party proceeded to die anyway because the enemies got to them despite the fact that the mission should’ve ended right then and there because I was in the square the game told me to be in. It turns out that the Skill “Leave” wasn’t even on any of my characters for some reason and later retries of the same mission had the skill in.
To this day, I don’t know if this was a deliberate choice by the game or the result of broken programming. However, I also have other issues with the game’s framerate or having attacks downright stop working for no reason.
Problems with Variety
Adding to the issues is the lack of variety in the warriors you use. Other games of this type will let you have a wide variety of classes to use. Meanwhile, in Othercide, you’re limited to 3… 4… So, you’ll only be able to do so much. I guess this can play into the whole subject of “Disposable Daughters” thing because you will only truly need one of each class to win.
The thing with this game is that you don’t really have much to work with, which makes the overall journey feel boring. I’d say that at the very least this game is fun to play in short bursts. I kind of wish I had the version on Nintendo Switch instead… But that also means I’ll be able to take a second look at the game through a Second Opinion.
Conclusion: Problems or Future Fixes?
Othercide’s problems are making me a bit iffy about giving this game a score. You see, some of these problems have been addressed with post-release patches. I must say that the game’s community response has been quite positive as the developers pay attention to the claims of the customers.
As of now, my recommendation is to play this game if you love Strategy RPGs and want to add spice to them. However, be prepared to face some metaphorical walls spawning in front of your face. If you’re looking for something easy to go through, you won’t find this experience here. With that said, I will leave this review without a score and return to it during my Second Opinion of the game. Now, I will leave the subject while aware that my review will probably be outdated. So, just so people know where my review stands, I played the game up to Version 4.12.
What do you think about our Othercide Review? Are you going to play the game yourself on PC or PlayStation 4? Will you wait for the Nintendo Switch version? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below.
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